The United States will host the IX Summit of the Americas on June 6-10, with the theme “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” for our hemisphere. The American nations — like the rest of the world — are divided into two groups: democracies and dictatorships. Mexico is — for now — part of the latter.
Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said that at the VIII Summit — held in Canada — regional leaders agreed on strict respect for democracy as a condition for participating in the summit. The United States, the host of the next summit in Los Angeles, claimed that respect for democracy is key to participating in the meeting.
Since the first hemispheric summit, held in 1994 in Miami, the strengthening of democracy has been central, reaffirmed in 2001 when the Inter-American Democratic Charter was approved. At the III Summit, the leaders defended the strict observance of democracy as an essential condition for participation in the future. Since then, any interruption of the institutional order represents an obstacle. Nichols recalled that Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela do not respect the Charter and, therefore, he does not expect them to be present.
In the 2018 free elections, Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) came to power. Now, however, he shows sympathy for dictatorships. His sayings and deeds give the impression that he intends to imitate them. To be another autocrat of the sad bunch. His threat of not attending the Summit if the host does not invite Havana, Managua, and Caracas, far from being a show of independence, is a demonstration of obsession.
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This attitude exposes Mexico to the world as a nation that is akin to authoritarianism and repression. It implies a rock in the relationship with Washington and the American democracies, with whom it is in its best interest to have the best relations. Recently, in his visit to Central America, AMLO complained that Washington does not deliver the promised money for development — $4 billion — to stop the massive influx of immigrants. But it is Mexico’s erratic foreign policy and administrative chaos that are holding up the program.
During a press conference at the National Palace, López Obrador declared that “if they exclude, if they do not invite everyone, a government representative will go, but I would not go, I would be represented by the Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard.” Furthermore, he said that if a country refuses to attend, it is its right, but “how can we have a summit of America without all the countries of America? Where are the uninvited from? Are they from another continent, from another galaxy, from an unknown planet?”
A rant like this, in addition to lacking a legal basis, is useless and cynical. It is a demonstration of support for dictatorships that oppress their peoples and keep them in misery. It also implies ignoring the current Democratic Charter. We can only hope that he does not turn the disastrous authoritarian trio into a quartet. He still has time to try.
In his recent trip to Cuba, AMLO showed great harmony with the satrap Díaz-Canel and took advantage of the visit to strengthen relations between both countries. Years ago, upon learning of Fidel Castro’s death, he defined him as a social and political fighter of great dimensions, who was on a par with Nelson Mandela.
Days after his initial threat, the Mexican leader clarified that he does not rule out Joe Biden inviting all the states to California. He explained that he was pleased that the White House affirmed that it had not yet sent the invitations. “No one has the right to speak on behalf of all America and to decide who participates and who does not. We are independent, free, sovereign countries. We are governed, not by the mandates of hegemonies, of foreign countries,” López Obrador argued. It is clear that he ignores the basics: no authoritarian regime represents or speaks on behalf of its people. It only represents the gang that holds power by force. The Bolivian president, Luis Arce, political heir of Evo Morales, assumed the same position. And Xiomara Castro, of Honduras, expressed that if not everyone attends, it is not a full summit.
The State Department confirmed that it ruled out inviting the three dictatorships due to the lack of freedom. In the midst of the controversy, Mexico ruled out future friction with the American government, considering that Biden is a good, responsible, democrat, and knows that the right to dissent must be respected. Of course, he forgot to mention the absence of the same right in the regimes he defends. According to AMLO there will be no reprisals, as he has received a very respectful treatment from the White House. He seems to confuse politics with diplomatic manners.
The Summit, as the only gathering of leaders from throughout the American continent, is the most important forum for addressing common challenges and opportunities. It is of the utmost importance to Washington’s continental strategy, which seeks to create an alliance that secures concrete commitments and actions. Improving pandemic resilience, fostering ecological recovery and supporting strong democracies. In addition to the gathering of national leaders, the United States announced three official forums: “The Civil Society Forum, the VI Young Americas Forum and the IV CEO Summit of the Americas. Each forum will foster greater dialogue between heads of government and the people and businesses of the Americas to address (…) social inclusion, economic recovery, climate change, democracy, digital transformation, and democracy.”
Eduardo Zalovich, Uruguayan-Israeli, is a history professor and journalist. He has written for several media, such as La Vanguardia, El Confidencial, Vozpopuli, Búsqueda and Correo de los Viernes. Zalovich analyzes, from the Middle East, the reality of the region and international politics. // Eduardo Zalovich, uruguayo-israelí, es profesor de Historia y periodista. Ha escrito para varios medios, como La Vanguardia, El Confidencial, Vozpopuli, Búsqueda y Correo de los Viernes. Analiza, desde el Medio Oriente, la realidad de la zona y la política internacional.